Danganronpa the Animation is the 2013 anime adaptation of the hugely popular visual novel graphic adventure game – Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc. The Danganronpa game series is available in the UK via NIS America. This anime adaptation is brought to the UK via Manga Entertainment and is directed by Seiji Kishi (Angel Beats!, Persona 4: The Animation) who is no stranger to game adaptations, even if they do tend to sit on the lacklustre side.
“Hope’s Peak High School only accepts the best of the best, and these superlative students will have to add slaughter to their schedules if they hope to leave the school in something other than a body bag. Ordinary student Makoto Naegi thinks his luck has changed when he wins a lottery to attend the prestigious school. However, instead of this being the beginning of a wonderful high school life, it’s a ticket to despair, because the only way to graduate is to kill one of your fellow students…or be one of their victims. But what’s this? The biggest mystery of all may be the secrets of the school itself. When the sadistic Monokuma starts to leave a trail of mind-bending clues, will there be any hope left for survival for the remaining students trapped in this trigger-happy havoc?” – Manga Entertainment
Given that this is an adaptation of a game that is largely visual novel, the transition into anime is rather smooth and not the entirely different animal that other game adaptations may tend to be. Game features do play a role during the series; as they are such a big part of the story, it would be hard not to include them. The Class Trial is a prime example of this and dominates a large portion of the series. The punishment scenes are fantastic, using a different visual style to the main series, more like that of a pop-up picture book which works in a really dark and sinister way.
Danganronpa is one of Seiji Kishi’s better game adaptations but I feel it suffers due to its length, not Kishi’s ability. While the series suffers for only being one-cour, a 13 episode run, trying to condense a game of Danganronpana’s length was always going to be a difficult task. It could have benefitted from being a two-cour series but there’s no doubt that the series is still enjoyable and works as a great introduction to the games. With the game series’ raising popularity only time will tell whether we see future adaptations.
Visually, the series is great as characters are interesting and unique. Blood is shown in a vibrant pink rather than in regular blood red, obviously a style choice that lends itself well to the visual look of the series. The series employs a lot of game styled visuals throughout that look great and pay homage to the game that the series is based upon.
The English language version does not feature a full returning cast with only Makoto Naegi’s English voice actor Bryce Papenbrook reprising his role from the game. That is certainly a shame but there’s always the Japanese language available if you can’t take the change. Both audio tracks are presented in 2.0 stereo. The opening song “Never Say Never” by TKDz2b and closing song “Zetsubousei: Hero Chiryouyaku” by suzumu feat. Soraru are both equally awesome as are the animations to accompany them.
Extras on disc one include some trailers for Mirai Nikki: Future Diary and Tokyo Ghoul, which appear before the menu, also available is commentary for episode one. Disc two includes your standard textless opening and closing songs, along with an instrumental version of the opening and an alternative version of the closing. Also included is the U.S trailer and trailers for series like Riddle Story of Devil, Deadman Wonderland, Noein, Eden of the East, Black Lagoon and Buddy Complex. The series also includes an extended director’s cut version of the final episode, episode 13, called ‘Goodbye, despair high school’.
The series does suffer a little due to the time constraints of being only a 13 episode series. Sadly the series doesn’t feature a full returning English voice cast. It’s still a solid adaptation that works great as an introduction to the game series. Visually, the series is great and adds a lot of game styled themes into its make-up. If you find the series interesting then definitely give the games a look and vice versa.